Sociology Index


How do structural explanations function in the social sciences? and what is a structural explanation? An explanation for crime, such as homicide, that focuses on social structure, referring to inequality of condition, poverty, or power differentials. The patriarchy structure of the family might help explain the abuse of women and children within the family. Sociologists like Rhonda Lenton argue that the racial structure of the USA and the depth of its poverty and the weakness of its welfare state compared to Canada, might help explain the difference in homicide rates.


Racial Differences on Organizational Attachment? Structural Explanation of Attitude Differences Between White and African American Employees - Mahmoud Kashefi. This study, following the structural theory of the labor market, suggests that any racial difference in organizational attachment is explained by the structural features of jobs held by racial groups rather than by race or other variables identified in the culture of poverty thesis or human capital theories. This study examines and explains differences between White and Black employees in organizational attachment. Using 1991 General Social Survey data, the findings are strongly consistent with the structural explanation of organizational attachment; the difference of average organizational attachment between Black and White employees is minor but significant. However, race displays a nonsignificant coefficient with organizational attachment when the structural features of jobs were kept constant.

Behavioural and structural explanation of socio-economic inequalities in health: an empirical evidence analysis. Karien Stronks, H. Dike Van De Mheen, Casper W. N. Looman and Johan P. Mackenbach 
The aim of this study was to investigate the importance of 'cultural/behavioral' and 'materialist/structuralist' explanations for socioeconomic status of inequalities in health, and to examine the interrelationship between them. We used data from a survey among a sample of the population in the southeastern part of the Netherlands. When analysed separately, both behavioral and structural factors contributed substantially to observed inequalities in health. In a simultaneous analysis, both groups of factors had a substantial part of their contribution in common. We defined the overlap as an indirect contribution of structural conditions, through behavior. If that overlap is ignored, this could lead to an overestimation of the behavioral explanation. In our analysis, the total contribution of structural factors is larger than that of behavioral factors.

Structural explanation in sociology: The egalitarian imperative
David Rubinstein, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Abstract The concept of opportunity is widely used in sociology to explain unequal attainments. In this approach the actor is seen as controlled by structures of ineqality of opportunity, rather than by culture or personality. This model is nearly identical with homo economicus. However, social order is conceived more sociologically. Opportunity is portrayed as controlled by competing groups. But the problem of collective action makes these concepts incompatible because rational maximizers are not ordinarily able to achieve cooperation. This contradiction is resolved by modeling the dominated as economically rational while the dominant are seen as driven by extra-economic motives. The main motive for adopting these contradictory models is a program of egalitarian social engineering.

A Theory of the Preferred Worker: A Structural Explanation for Black Male Dominance in Basketball
Scott N. Brooks - Michael A. McKail - University of California - Riverside, USA
Black males' 'dominance' in basketball is taken for granted and often explained in terms of racial difference and socio-environmental factors. Power needs to be considered for a fuller understanding. This article does this, providing a structural perspective of black male integration into basketball that builds from Edna Bonacich's work on labor and group relations. An occupational niche is two-way; a group finds and occupies a niche that they have been given access to by a hiring group. Black males do not dominate the collegiate and professional ranks of basketball simply because of ability. They were given access to the opportunity because it benefited capitalist interests and because of their marginalized position in society.